The Anglican Alliance has today joined a group of 20 Christian organisations in issuing a statement to mark World Refugee Day. The statement celebrates the opportunities for solidarity and learning that come with opening our arms to welcome refugees, and calls for more shared responsibility in responding to current large-scale movements of refugees in every region of the world.
The ecumenical group draws from the Biblical account of Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10), recounting the way in which God united the Jew and the Gentile despite their differences.
The statement encourages us to welcome the ‘other’, saying, “If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth.”
It continues, “in welcoming those whom we encounter, we meet the God who is always already present with the vulnerable.”
There are currently over 65 million displaced people worldwide. Since the year 2000, when the UN announced a World Refugee Day, 20th June has been a time to remember the strength and courage of refugees worldwide, and to commit to supporting those who have been forced to flee their homes.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need.”
In our joint ecumenical statement we ask that countries start to recognise the “significant contributions that refugees and migrants make to their host communities” and “ensure a more effective responsibility-sharing in response to large movements.”
In response to the increasing opposition to refugees and migrants worldwide, the statement pleas for acceptance and unity: “Increasingly around the world we witness the building of walls to keep out the displaced: not just physical walls, but also walls of fear, prejudice, hatred, and ideology. Let us all, as one human family, strive to build bridges of solidarity rather than walls of division […] it is God who brings us together.”
Anglican and Episcopal churches and agencies throughout the Communion are deeply involved in welcoming refugees into their communities, responding to practical needs and discovering mutual enrichment. This week the Anglican Alliance will run a series of stories to showcase this ministry with refugees throughout the Communion.
You can read the full statement in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian in the links below
The Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry has also released a video for World Refugee Day, calling for prayer and action. He said, “In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children.”